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What are the SDGs: A sustainable transformation in manufacturing

11 minutes for read

A paradigm shift is occurring in the manufacturing sector moving away from business-as-usual.

Both consumers and stakeholders alike are demanding more sustainable measures — and the manufacturing industry must take note of the shift.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the center of the sustainability discussion, and they have a profound impact on how the industry will make strategic decisions today (and in the future).

In this article, you will learn what the SDGs are, how they impact the manufacturing industry, and how Contec enables an alternative narrative to business-as-usual in the tire industry, specifically.

What are the SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals enacted by the United Nations in 2015 to bring prosperity, peace, and partnership to all people on the planet by 2030. The sustainable development proposed for current and future generations has three dimensions – economic, social, and ecological.

The EU made constructive contributions to the SDGs 2030. The bloc also formulated the new European Green Deal, which included the Circular Economy Action Plan to achieve these goals. However, progress towards the fulfillment of the SDGs has been slow and patchy. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a further setback for many SDGs:

  • Ecological: Greenhouse gas emissions increased during the pandemic, despite a brief respite.
  • Social: The global crisis has increased extreme poverty, and reversed gains in children and women’s rights, health, and education.

Manufacturing SDGs

The manufacturing sector has a major role to play in reaching these benchmarks since they design products and use natural resources during production. The current linear model they use leads to overexploitation of resources and the creation of gigantic quantities of waste. This isn’t aligned with the incentives of the SDGs.

To limit the resultant environmental degradation and pollution, the EU wants companies to adopt the SDGs. The EU introduced the “extended producer responsibility” in 2021, to encourage producers like manufacturers of goods to reuse, recycle, and recover materials before consigning them to landfills, and to strengthen the existing Waste Framework Directive.

The Directive requires businesses to protect human health and the environment, by reducing waste and its adverse effects through efficient management. To reach these goals and also contain the impact of resource use, the EU wants industries to transition to circular economies.

The SDGs can be a strong sustainable framework for the industry to meet its social responsibility goals.

Which SDGs matter the most to manufacturing

The manufacturing sector has a major role to play in reaching these benchmarks since they design products and use natural resources during production. The current linear model they use leads to overexploitation of resources and the creation of gigantic quantities of waste. This isn’t aligned with the incentives of the SDGs.

To limit the resultant environmental degradation and pollution, the EU wants companies to adopt the SDGs. The EU introduced the “extended producer responsibility” in 2021, to encourage producers like manufacturers of goods to reuse, recycle, and recover materials before consigning them to landfills, and to strengthen the existing Waste Framework Directive.

The Directive requires businesses to protect human health and the environment, by reducing waste and its adverse effects through efficient management. To reach these goals and also contain the impact of resource use, the EU wants industries to transition to circular economies.

The SDGs can be a strong sustainable framework for the industry to meet its social responsibility goals.

Which SDGs matter the most to manufacturing

So, what SDGs are relevant for manufacturing? Individual businesses in the manufacturing sector can help fulfill their sustainability commitment by focusing on the following SDGs:

  • SDG 7: Increase the use of renewable fuels and cleaner fossil fuel technologies.
  • SDG 8: Encourage the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and enhance their role in regional, national, and global supply chains.
  • SDG 9: Develop and use innovation and new technology that support circular and bio-economy.
  • SDG 12: Producers and manufacturers can redesign products and reduce the use of natural resources to make production sustainable.
  • SDG 13: Reduce the carbon footprint of the manufacturing and supply chain.
  • SDG 17: Forge partnerships within the private sector and between private and public sectors to implement new sustainable business models.

Impact of the circular economy on the industry

Companies embracing these SDGs must not only attract and retain customers but also investors and employees. Often, their operation licenses depend on their commitment to sustainability. All in all, we see companies taking corporate social responsibility more seriously. 

Many industry pioneers are turning to the circular economy too, based on the cradle-to-cradle philosophy, to rethink production and achieve sustainability. This new business model incorporates waste recovery into product design and removes the root causes of unsustainable environmental degradation and exploitation.

New patterns of ownership and consumption to support the circular economy are also emerging, such as

  • Retaining ownership of the products and collecting them after use to access raw materials.
  • Extending product life coupled with premium pricing to outcompete cheaper but low-quality products.

Several companies around the globe use the biological or technical cycles of the C-2-C approach. And the UN also recommends using circular solutions to achieve the SDGs for manufacturing and production.

Supporting companies with the SDGs

Contec is a forward-thinking company, enabling the tire industry to become circular and carbon-neutral, and solving the major waste problem of end-of-life tires.

Contec uses pyrolysis, one of the few technologies available to recover material from waste tires, to produce recovered Carbon Black and pyrolytic oil. The recovered Carbon Black can provide up to 25% of the resources needed to make new tires

By providing alternatives to virgin materials, Contec can support major tire producers like Michelin and Bridgestone in reaching their SDGs and carbon reduction targets.

Contec’s technology and own commitment to sustainability provide tire manufacturers with alternative clean solutions for their own sustainable commitment. These are just a few of the SDGs that Contec is working on to achieve as a company – and that it can support partners to achieve, too.

  • SDG 3 – Good health and well-being: The Contec pyrolysis method makes life healthier for nearby communities and workers by replacing incineration of ELT that produced hazardous, toxic, and carcinogenic gases. This reduces the number of deaths and illnesses earlier caused by air, water, and land pollution.
  • SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation: Contec is improving the quality of local water bodies, by reducing the dumping of tire wastes and pollution by hazardous chemicals.
  • SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy: Contec uses the sustainable pyrolytic gas produced during the waste tire treatment, instead of fossil fuels, in its factory as an energy source. Next, Contec aims to provide that clean energy to other local manufacturing plants.
  • SDG 9 – Industry, innovation, and infrastructure: Contec has introduced many proprietary innovations to its pyrolysis process, which has improved resource-use efficiency, product quality, and operational safety. It’s also an environmentally friendly and clean technology.
  • SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production: Contec’s circular model produces secondary raw materials, ensuring that tire producers become sustainable by reducing the use of fossil fuels, exploitation of natural resources, and environmental degradation.
  • SDG 13 – Climate action: Contec helps in climate action by reducing the carbon footprint of the tire manufacturing sector and its supply chain, since each tonne of ELT diverted from incineration prevents the emission of 700 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • SDG 15 – Life on land: By replacing tire incineration, the Contec process reduces the production of chemicals that pollute the freshwater bodies and degrade the land.

SDGs in manufacturing

Innovations in resource recovery and circular models in the automotive industries are two of 60 sectors where SDGs will provide economic returns. SDGs could open up opportunities worth $12 trillion in four sectors, including materials and energy, and save $26 trillion through climate action. Thus, the SDGs present not only goals but also opportunities for new growth in manufacturing.

By following the SDG guidelines, manufacturers can reduce their impact on climate change – and drive sustainable action in their companies. At Contec, we provide sustainable recovered Carbon Black, Oil, and Steel for various applications in several industries. For more information about regulations, subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter to receive industry-related information about the circular economy in manufacturing.

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If you’d like more information,

get in touch with a Contec product specialist.